Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CityScape = Collier Center

Anyone disagree that by January 2011, CityScape will only comprise two blocks of (mediocre) retail and a single high-rise? (A carbon copy of the Collier Center, as I originally suggested in February 2007?)

Granted, this is a position on which I'd like to be wrong. But the signs all point one way-- the most telling coming a few months ago when the project's developer, RED Develoment, split the incentives in its development agreement so that it could receive half of the promised millions from the city even if it only built one tower at CityScape. Right now, RED is saying that it's building the office tower on the block on the east side of Central and Washington streets, but that the hotel/condo tower will follow in a few months.

We'll see. Any project that depends on condo development in a significant way is probably DOA in this market. And the need for hotel rooms downtown will be significantly blunted by the opening of the city-owned Sheraton.

In any event, the Arizona Republic needs to stop exaggerating the scale of this project. I've seen story after story-- one ran today-- that refers to CityScape as a "sprawling, $900 million project spread out over three blocks." Again, while I'd love to be wrong, this project is not going to spread over three blocks-- my understanding is the project partner that was to develop the block between First and Second streets has already dropped out; it's definitely not going to amount to the $900M touted by the developer in order to gain city approval.

Ultimately, I don't care all that much whether one tower or two is built, although I'd prefer two. My hope was to finally get a project in downtown Phoenix that engages the street with quality retail. My expectations all along have been very low on that front, so if CityScape only ends up producing one more downtown tower, I won't be much more heartbroken. It's too bad. Much as I'd like, I just can't get excited about this project.

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